- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Having reaped huge electoral rewards by demagoguing Social Security in the past, such as capturing the U.S. Senate in 1986, the Democratic Party clearly hopes history will repeat itself in 2002. That is the unmistakable conclusion one can draw from a draft opinion essay, intended for a seniors' publication, that has recently been circulating among Democratic staffers.

A copy of the essay, accompanied by comments by Democratic staffers, was mistakenly e-mailed to a Republican congressional aide whose last name was the same as a staffer's in the office of Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio. The opinion piece, according to the Associated Press, asserts that President Bush's budget "raids the Social Security trust fund to the tune of $1.6 trillion dollars to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent of Americans" and for corporations such as Enron. So preposterous was such an assertion that even a Democratic staffer, who forwarded the essay to other Democrats, remarked, "I hope this is not under consideration," adding, "Talk about scaring seniors this may be a little over the top."

A little? In the first place, Social Security's so-called trust fund does not even exist in any real sense. As President Clinton's own fiscal 2000 budget acknowledged, "These [trust] funds are not set up to be pension funds, like the funds of private pension plans. They do not consist of real economic assets that can be drawn down in the future to fund benefits. Instead, they are claims on the Treasury that, when redeemed, will have to be financed by raising taxes, borrowing from the public or reducing benefits or other expenditures."

In the second place, given the absence of a trust fund in any real economic sense, the Bush administration could hardly have been "raid[ing]" the trust fund to finance a long-overdue tax cut. In the third place, much of the 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax-relief program funds tax cuts for middle-income families, and not solely for "the wealthiest one percent of Americans," as the essay claimed. These broad-based cuts include a significant reduction in the marriage penalty, the introduction of a new 10 percent bracket, a doubling of the child tax credit from $500 per child to $1,000 and major increases in 401(k) and IRA retirement benefits for middle- and working-class families.

Obviously, the Democrats' intention is to frighten seniors for electoral advantage, irrespective of the facts. Thus, as Stephen Dinan of The Washington Times reported, one Democratic staffer even admitted that the opinion essay targeted at senior citizens was "not entirely factually accurate" to say the least. No problem, however, because, she added, "it is sooo fun to bash Republicans," a comment to which she appended an e-mail "smiley face." For the Democrats, a party devoid of any real ideas, this is what now passes as its premier campaign issue. That's nothing to smile about.


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